Plant-based gardening and farming

Breeding Winter Hardy Kale & Collards, Year 1

Biennial plants such as kale and collards produce seed in their second year. That means they won’t produce any seeds if they don’t survive the winter, and neither of these plants is reliably hardy in my Zone 6a garden in Indiana. Most Northern seed keepers dig up their plants and overwinter them in a greenhouse or root cellar, then re-plant them in the spring for a seed crop. I’d like to try breeding a hardy strain of kale by selecting seeds only from the hardiest plants that survive winter in the ground, and this year I tried to do just that. It turned out to be a very interesting experiment! Read the full article to find out what happened.

Permaculture In Place : Bioregional Plants For Permaculture Designs

The design patterns, goals, and ethics of permaculture can be practiced just about anywhere in the world. Plants, however, are best when they are local. In this article, I will share some of my favorite native plants to fill several important permaculture niches. By growing, tending, and using native plants, we can develop a more intimate relationship with our own bioregion. We gain an opportunity to nurture an even deeper form of abundance, one that nurtures us as well as the birds, insects, wildlife, fungi, and micribiota that co-evolved with the plants of our place.

Hardening Off Seedlings : A How-To Guide

When plants have been growing indoors under warm lights (or in windows), the great outdoors can come as quite a shock. The big bright sun can burn them, the wind can blow their leaves off, and the variable temperatures can stunt their growth. There’s a simple action you can take to prepare your seedlings for the real world. It’s called “hardening off”. Hardening off seedlings is pretty simple once you get the knack of it, but there are some tips that can help the process go much more smoothly. Read the full article to learn all my tips for giving your plants the best possible head start!

Starting Seeds With Cold Stratification

Most of the usual garden veggies (such as tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce) can be sown directly into warm, moist potting mix in the spring, and they will germinate and begin growing within a couple of weeks. However, many of the wilder plants such as native plants and medicinal herbs require special pre-treatment before they will begin to germinate and grow. One such treatment is called cold stratification. Cold stratification is a fancy-sounding term which only means that the seed must experience winter before it will germinate (sprout).

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